|Figure 1: Type of performance enhancing supplement used by high school athletes (data adapted from Piattolly. 2011)|
An interesting secondary finding of the study relates to gender differences and the afore mentioned role of parents in their children's choice and consumption of performance enhancing supplements:
When gender comparisons were made, significant t-tests demonstrated that young women rated higher on taking supplements to improve strength, increase size, decrease body fat (p < 0.05) to become a better athlete, and increase physique. With the exception of decrease body fat, all p-values were < 0.001. Significantly more young women reported learning about the supplement from a teammate or friend (p < 0.05), while young men reported learning about the supplement from their parents (p < 0.05).It is, however, unsettling to know that other than the 25% of the athletes who "said they would consult a nutritionist or physician (25%)" to make sure they chose the right supplements, 26% of the young athletes conceded that "they would take a supplement that could harm their health if they could receive a scholarship".
In view of this last-mentioned result, the fears and anxieties of parents appear in a very different light. Banning or restricting the consumption of harmless supplements like protein shakes will yet hardly solve a dilemma that is rooted much more deeply within a scholarship system where athletic and lately cognitive performance is so tightly bound to the future prospects of adolescents that "doping" muscle and/or brain are on the verge of becoming the norm rather than the exception.